Choosing Your Matchy Set Colours
It’s the question most asked across equestrian internet forums all over the world, but is there a definitive answer to “what colour looks best on my horse?”
Well, as it turns out, yes, there’s actually an art to colour matching. While you probably know that some colours look great together and others just don’t, you may not know that this is all to do with the “colour wheel”. This is a neat little tool which is broken up into cool, warm, primary, secondary and tertiary colours.
Designers, stylists, painters, artists – and now horse riders – can use the principles of the colour wheel to pair hues that work in harmony with each other. Which is exactly the look you’re after when you’re aiming to effortlessly turn out your horse in a matchy matchy set that complements their coat colour, markings, the rest of your tack and even your riding outfit.
Kitting your horse out with coloured saddle pads, matching bonnets and bandages has become a sought after style, with many professional riders showcasing their favourite ensembles both at shows and at home. Luckily, we can seek to emulate these looks within our arenas too, with just a little help from colour theory.
Borrowing from the colour wheel, there are four main ways to choose colours for your horse.
1. Black and White Goes with Any Colour
Oh lucky you with the black or grey steed. You get to pick out your favourite colours knowing that your horse can probably carry off the boldest look with ease. Having said that, when selecting a matching set that will really pop, try selecting dark colours for a grey and light colours for a black horse.
For inspiration, just think of Carl Hester’s Uthopia with his gleaming white dressage pad. The contrast will make your horse’s coat stand out perfectly, no frenzied grooming required.
2. Pick Two Opposing Colours on the Colour Wheel (Otherwise Known As Complementary Colours)
Referring back to the colour wheel, you’ll notice that the blues and greens are directly across from the yellows and oranges. Guess what that means for riders with chestnuts and palominos? Yes, you guessed it, you’ll be looking at shades of blue and green like aqua, teal, mint, royal blue, navy and hunter green. Depending on how rich your horse’s coat colour is, you might also be able to consider purple shades like violet and plum. Choose your favourite pad and team it with wraps, a fly veil and halter for the perfect matchy set.
3. Try the Monochromatic Look (and Break All the Rules!)
Alright, this approach is one for the more confident equestrian fashionista going for gold in the colour coordination stakes. The idea is to coordinate hues of the same colour. That means if you have a buckskin, you could attempt a bronze saddle blanket, or you could try an orange saddle pad on your bright red chestnut or even a steel grey set on your dapple bay.
Rather than stand out, the look you’ll be aiming for is a polished pairing oozing style and certainty. You might find this look works well for horses with lots of bling and those with spotted coat patterns as the lack of contrast allows the markings to shine.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Pick a Third Colour
If you’ve got two colours down pat then it’s time to pick a third by looking at the coloured piping on the edge of your saddle blanket or by choosing an accent colour though your matched set. This sort of look suits the traditionalist amongst us who appreciates a good navy blue/red or green/maroon combination on a flashy bay. It will also appeal to those who love the more zesty spring colours such as raspberry paired with lime – how eye-catching would something like that look on a chunky paint?
Of course, when all is said and done, colour choice often simply comes down to personal preference. Colours have this innate ability to influence our moods, and so we might decide it’s a pink kind of day despite owning a roan gelding! Pick the matchy set you absolutely love and I’m sure you’ll find a way for you and your equine partner to pull off the look with aplomb.